Pages

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Habakkuk


HABAKKUK

 

HABAKKUK’S FIRT COMPLAINT:

 

1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.

 

Habakkuk was angry.

 

1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

 

Habakkuk was angry that God had not heard his prayer and punished sinful Judah.

 

2:3 Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

 

Habakkuk was angry with God for allowing him to see sinful acts from Judah. This was his burden. He was out of God’s will, self-righteous, impudent and a smart-aleck prophet who needed to be disciplined. He intended to tell God what to do.

 

1:4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceeds.

 

He was angry that the wicked were not being punished. He is NOT seeking God’s will; rather he is telling God what must be done!

………………………………………………………..

GOD’S FIRST REPLY TO HABAKKUK:

 

1:5-11

 

God will punish wicked Judah with Babylon who will attribute its success to its pagan gods.

 

……………………………………………………….

 

HABAKKUK’S ANGRY REPLY TO GOD:

 

1:12 Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

 

Habakkuk vehemently disagreed with God’s answer and rebuked God! First, he reminded God WHO HE IS: He is God! Second, Habakkuk says “we” shall not die –he includes even the wicked Hebrews. Third, “You, LORD, have established ‘them’ (Babylon) for destruction – not us. Fourth, ‘you, o mighty God, have established ‘them’ (your people) for correction.”

 

In essence, Habakkuk dared to CORRECT God!

It is vital to note that 1:12 sets the context of 2:1-2.

 

1:13 (14-17) Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and hold thy tongue when the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he?

First, Habakkuk reminds God WHO HE IS – He cannot look at evil from Hebrew or Gentile. Second, “Why then have YOU, God, gone against your own character and looked (favorably) at the Babylonian’s evil by allowing them to punish your less-evil Hebrew children?” Habakkuk has accused God of going against His very own character? This is very very serious.

 

…………………………………………………………

HABAKKUK PUBLICLY DARES GOD TO PROVE HIS LOGIC WRONG

 

2:1a I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower …

 

(1) Habakkuk chose the most visible public place in the city to defy God and His proclamation to punish Judah with Babylon.

 

(2) Habakkuk was not praying. He was a public watchman on a very public watchtower making a very loud public accusation against God.

 

(3) 2:1-2 must be understood in the context of the verses which immediately precede them.

 

2:1b … and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

 

(1) Convinced that he was right and God was wrong (1:13), Habakkuk was not interested in God’s reply. Rather he was looking forward to his next rebuttal.

 

(2) Habakkuk was NOT “being still,” “waiting patiently” and was NOT waiting for God to “show me what you want me to do.” He was NOT “visualizing” and “looking to see” correction. Rather he couldn’t wait to rebut God once again (“…and what I shall answer when I am reproved”).

 

2:2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it.

 

(1) This is a rebuke. It is not an answer to prayer. Since Habakkuk was in the very public watch-tower publicly challenging God to prove his argument wrong, God made it extremely plain to him and others that His answer to Habakkuk would stand. God is openly harshly rebuking the smart aleck prophet.

 

(2) Habakkuk was NOT “writing down what God told him to do.” Rather, God was telling Habakkuk to “Write down what HE was going to do.”

 

……………………………………………………….

2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

 

(1) Yes, we need “to worship God no matter how He answers and, yes, “we need to wait for God’s vision.” But the context is God rebuking an arrogant smart-aleck prophet whose soul was “lifted up.”

 

(2) “The just shall live by faith” should be included in every sermon about Habakkuk. In its context it was made to rebuke an arrogant egotistical prophet.

 

LESSONS:

 

(1)       When you ask God for something, be careful. He may not answer your prayer in the manner you expect.

(2)       Always pray allowing God’s will to take priority over your wn will.

(3)       Don’t ever challenge God. He is smarter than you. He knows the end from the beginning. He is transcendent.

(4)       Remember who you are – a sinner saved by grace, a child of God, a child of a loving Father who knows what is best.

(5)       If you dare to publicly challenge God, be prepared to be openly and publicly corrected.

 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review of Joel Osteen's Theology





Review of Joel Osteen's Theology

 

Reviewing the Theology of Joel Osteen,

 

By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

 

January 17, 2014

 

 

 

The following conclusions have been reached after two very careful readings of Joel Osteen’s book, I Declare, 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life, 2012

 

 

 

It is my studied opinion that Joel Osteen does not qualify to be called a Christian preacher of Christ’s gospel. He does not use the vocabulary of God’s Word. He shows no indication of knowing what the “gospel” is or even how Jesus and other Bible-preachers preached the gospel. The 180-page book does not contain the words “condemn, confess, gospel, hades, hell, justification, lost, repent, repentance, redemption, salvation” and “witness.” Nowhere does it encourage readers to “study the Bible, and except for the final pages, it does not encourage readers to “pray.”

 

 

 

Pages v-xiii: “Our words have creative power. Whether we speak something either good or bad, we give life to what we are saying.” … “The Scripture says ‘We shall eat the fruit of our words.’ That means we will get exactly what we have been saying.” “You will produce what you say.”

 

 

 


Osteen primary teaching in this book is: “Declare,” specifically “verbalize,” or “speak the words” and you shall receive what you speak because your words have creative power. They begin Osteen’s book and he does not give the textual reference for context.

 

 

 

The KJV of Proverb 13:2 reads “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth …” TLB: “The good man wins his case by careful argument …” NLT: “Good people enjoy the positive results of their words …”

 

 

 

Osteen takes his greatest text, not from the New Testament, not from the Gospels, not from Jesus – but probably from the Amplified of Proverb 13:2 (which evidently can have many interpretations). This text does make us little gods with the power to create anything we speak! If that were true, no believer would lack anything.

 

 

 

Perhaps the most harmful part of using Proverb 13:2 out of context is its non-association with the gospel plan of salvation and words such as “repentance, confession, the blood of Christ and salvation. Throughout most of this book, nothing is even said about faith in anything other than faith in one’s own words or Osteen’s words.

 

 

 

Pages vi and vii: “No, those [negative] thoughts may come to your mind but don’t make the mistake of verbalizing them.” “…you can bless your future one day at a time…” “If you read one declaration and a story [from his book] each day, I believe you will put yourself in a position for God’s blessings.”

 

 

 

Osteen teaches that there is nothing wrong with “thinking” negative thoughts as long as one does not “verbalize” them. This is clearly contrary to what Jesus and other gospel writers taught about the sins of lust and hate. His view of God’s Word would prevent Jesus from preaching the need of repentance and the confession of Christ as Savior because of our sinfulness.

 

 

 

P1-5: After stating that we should simply “declare God’s blessings on our life,” Osteen gives two illustrations. One is about a friend who, after being denied a 2-year scholarship, received a 4-year scholarship. The second tells of a church member who tithed after receiving a large sum of money “from a family member he had never met.” Then Osteen says “I’m believing for some long-lost relatives like that” and partially quotes Ephesian 2:7.

 

 

 

First, neither illustration depicted a person who was blessed after declaring God’s blessings! Second, omitted in Ephesians 2:7 is the first phrase “in the ages to come.” God does not promise every believer “explosive” blessings “beyond your normal income” simply because you declare yourself to be wealthy. Third, Osteen omits the gospel prerequisite for receiving God’s blessings – “not being ashamed of the gospel of salvation” (Rom 1:16), “admitting we are sinners” (Rom 5:8) and “confessing Christ as Lord and Savior who was resurrected” (Rom 10:9-10). 

 

 

 

P7-11: Osteen says that our “dreams and goals” exist because God has “spoken them to our spirit” and “birthed them.” “If we do our part and believe,” “then He will bring it to pass.” He then quotes part of Hebrews 13:5 (“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”) and part of 13:6 (“The Lord is my helper”) to prove that “It will happen.”

 

 

 

First, our dreams and goals are not necessarily from God. Second, it takes more than believing and verbalizing to insure that our dreams will come to pass. Third, this book never preaches the context of Hebrews 13:5-6 – care for needy Christian brothers (v1-2), some believers suffer (v3), do not defile the marriage bed (v4), do not covet (v5a), be content with what you have (v5b) “for I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” “The Lord is my Helper” from 13:6 does not mean that “God will bring to pass (our goals)” (as Osteen says) and “I will give birth to every promise God put in my heart” (p7).

 

 

 

P13-17: There is nothing wrong in this discussion of grace. “God will give you the strength, the favor, the forgiveness to do what you need to do.” However it goes against Osteen’s oft-repeated mantra that our verbalized words give life to what we are saying (p5). His emphasis here is on doing and not verbalizing.

 

 

 

P19-23: On page 9 Osteen wrote that everything we dream and all of our goals exist because God placed them in our heart. Now he adds “God still has every intention of bringing to pass every dream, every promise He put in your heart” “You must do your part.” Say “I will take steps of faith.”

 

 

 

First, it is incorrect to frankly state that all of our dreams and goals originated with God. Second, Osteen has deviated from his original declaration that our “verbalized words have creative power” (v, vi). Although he will return often to the positive verbalization-creation theme, he is more correct here by adding that we need to go far beyond verbalizing in order to reach goals.

 

 

 

P25-29: “I will look at what is right and not at what is wrong.” This is an unbiblical statement. God looks at what is wrong and punishes “sin’ -- a word that does not appear in this book! God inspired His prophets to spend many chapters beholding, defining and condemning sin. It is only as we behold evil that we determine to do something about it.

 

 

 

P31-35: “You are where you are because somebody sacrifices. Somebody prayed. Somebody served.” While this is true in much of our lives (Christ died for all, soldiers died and my parents worked hard), it is not true in all of our lives. For example my 3 brothers and 2 sisters began with the same position in life and currently have greatly different positions. How we apply ourselves and grow in faith (or otherwise) must be considered.

 

 

 

P37-41: “He (God) will work out every detail (of my life) to my advantage.”

 

 

 

Osteen really means “I verbalize that ‘God will work out everything He has planned for my life because I have verbalized it and my verbalized words have the creative power to make them come true’” (pv,vi).

 

 

 

“The Scripture talks about how all of our days have been written in God’s book. He has already recorded every part of your life from the beginning to the end.” “The good news is your story ends in victory” (p39). “… if you will stay in faith …” (p40).

 

 

 

Osteen is all over the place with his theology. These opening words sound like Calvinistic predestination or even Muslim fatalism and they end with an Arminian Methodist “if.”

 

 

 

The Bible does not teach that God’s “books” contain every deed we will ever do we do it! And, if it were true, then “verbalizing” what we want to happen in our lives is not necessary.

 

 

 

P43-47: “I declare (verbalize) God has solutions to every problem I will already face already lined up. The right people and the right breaks are in my future.”

 

 

 

It is wrong to give Christians the conviction that every life will end up with the right “breaks.” It was part of God’s plan for Jesus, Peter and

 

Paul to suffer martyrdom. Millions of sincere Christians were martyred by pagan Rome and papal Rome. Even today martyrdom is common.

 

 

 

P49-52: “I declare (verbalize) unexpected blessings are coming my way. I will move forward from barely making it to having more than enough.” “I will see Ephesian 3:20 … in my life.”

 

 

 

Paul was a prisoner in Rome when he penned this (3:1). He was not asking for and did not receive wealth. Verse 3:20 is part of a prayer begun in 3:14-15. The key to receiving the blessings of 3:20 is knowing everything possible about the love of Jesus Christ (its breadth, length, depth and height) (v18). And nowhere is this book does Osteen encourage believers to read beyond his own book (much less God’s Word) to obtain this knowledge.

 

 

 

P53-57: “I declare (verbalize) that God will accelerate His plan for my life.”

 

 

 

Osteen is on both sides at the same time. This is not what he originally declared in the introduction on pages v and vi. There the accomplishment or our goals was achieved by the verbalization of words –by our own creative power through speaking words.

 

 

 

P59-63: “I declare (verbalize) Ephesians 3:20 over my life. … Because I honor him, His blessings will chase me down and overtake me. I will be in the right place at the right time.”

 

 

 

Na├»ve? Gullible? Silly? Arrogant? Tell that to Stephen, Paul, Peter and the millions of Christian martyrs throughout the centuries – they were “chased down” and “in the right place.“

 

 

 

“When you walk in God’s favor, His blessings will chase you down and overtake you” (p63).

 

 

 

Again Osteen has switched from “Our verbalized words have creative power” to “when you walk in God’s favor.”

 

 

 

P65-68: “I am His masterpiece, His most prized possession.” “Ephesians 2:10 says ‘You are my masterpiece.’ … You are one of a kind. God created you in His very own image.”

 

 

 

The KJV, NKJ, NAS and NIV read “we are his workmanship.” The text is not discussing individuality; “we” means “every believer. Osteen has changed the text from “we” to “you” to make it say only what he wants it to say.

 

 

 

P69-73: “God would not allow change if He didn’t have a purpose for it.”

 

 

 

This statement reflects predestination, Calvinism and fatalism. It opposes free-will. Osteen switches back and forth between the two philosophies.

 

 

 

P75-79: “I declare (verbalize) that I will (only) use my words to bless people.” “When you speak the blessing over … Those carry God’s supernatural power. They release favor, ability, confidence, and God’s goodness in extraordinary ways.”

 

 

 

Osteen has returned to his first introductory premise. As good as it may seem, life is not all positive and thinking. The words of atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and Muslims should not be included.

 

 

 

Osteen is also very wrong in what he omits. Unlike Osteen, Jesus and other biblical spokesmen found if very necessary to can “sin” by its proper name. They used negative words of condemnation in order to point out the sinfulness of sin and the reality of discipline by an angry God. Osteen deletes over half of the Bible.

 

 

 

P81-85: “I declare (verbalize) that I have a sound mind.”

 

 

 

It would be great if persons in mental institutions could be healed simply by declaring that they have a sound mind. Real life does not work that way.

 

 

 

“My thoughts are guided by God’s Word every day.”

 

 

 

No, they are not. Osteen admits only using the positive parts of God’s Word. That means he admits NOT using the thousands of rebukes and references to sin. Serious Bible teaching would include using words such as “gospel,” “repent,” “confess”, “wrath,” and “hell.”

 

 

 

 “If you are to activate (God’s) favor, you must get in agreement with God by declaring ‘I do have favor.’”

 

 

 

The Bible teaches that, in order to be in God’s favor, we must first be saved from our “sins” (a word not even used by Osteen). We must repent and confess ours sins and ask Christ to save us from our sins. Salvation does not come simply by declaring that you have favor. This is nonsense.

 

 

 

P93-97: “I declare (verbalize) that I will put actions behind my faith.”

 

 

 

Yes. Please do. Stop teaching that all we need is to verbalize our thoughts and their substance will be created (p v and vi). Here he is correct in suggesting that “doing” is far more important than simply “saying.” He is contracting himself.

 

 

 

P99-102: “I declare breakthroughs are coming in my life, sudden bursts of God’s goodness.” “Your sickness doesn’t have a chance when God releases a flood of His healing.”

 

 

 

Not every faithful Christian will be healed. Simply verbalizing words for something to be true does not “create” and make it true. God may have elected you to die a martyr or die to show others faith in action.

 

 

 

P103-106: “God wants to make your life easier.”

 

 

 

Tell that to Steven, James, Peter and Paul. If Osteen were referring to Matthew 11:29-30 concerning our sin burden, he is correct. But Osteen does not call sin “sin.”

 

 

 

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me wherever I go.”

 

 

 

Although “goodness and mercy” followed King David, his life was not easy because of his sin.

 

 

 

“That means things will be easier.” “If you stay in faith you will see favor that will make your life easier.”

 

 

 

Not until the last sentence does Osteen add the word “if.” Is life easier because we verbalize it or because we “stay in faith.” And what does “stay in faith” mean to Osteen? Faith in what? He never tells us to study God’s Word and keep focused on every word and deed of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:18). He never tells us it is faith in the shed blood of Christ for our sins. Sin? What is that to Osteen?

 

 

 

P111-114: “I declare (verbalize) God’s supernatural favor over my life.” “I will accomplish my God-given dream.”

 

 

 

This is a repeat. First, again, it is not true that all of our dreams and goals are God-given. Second, Not everything we dream will work out as we hope. For many God’s favor has meant a life of suffering or martyrdom.

 

 

 

P115-118: “I was created in the image of God. I have the DNA of a winner.” “You’ve got to fake it until your make it.” “I believe today, as I am speaking faith into you something is happening on the inside.”

 

 

 

First, the “image of God” does not refer to DNA or our ability to create from nothing. It refers to our sentient self-awareness and ability to love and care. Second, Osteen tell us to lie to ourselves by “faking it until we make it.” Third, the “faith” the makes things happen within is not primarily “faith from Osteen,” or “faith in ourselves,” or “faith in faith.” If believers study God’s Word (which Osteen does NOT strongly encourage), it is primarily faith IN JESUS CHRIST as our personal Savior from our sins and sinfulness (something foreign in this book).

 

 

 

P119-123: Osteen declares (verbalizes) that he will be a “people builder” and (only) speak positive words to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Again, this is not Christianity; it is the power of positive thinking which is equally promoted by atheists, agnostics and many teachers even within Buddhism and New Age. However God found it necessary to include many words of condemnation and warning if sinful man did not repent.

 

 

 

P125-128: “I will not talk to God about how big my problem is.”

 

 

 

This is not the pattern for biblical prayers. Osteen has replaced God’s Word with his own words. It is not how the prophets, Jesus or apostles prayed.

 

 

 

P129-133: I declare (verbalize) I will prosper despite every difficulty that may come my way.”

 

 

 

We must allow God’s will and God’s plan to supersede our own and be prepared even for suffering and martyrdom. “Thy will be done.”

 

 

 

P133-137: “My mind is set on what God says about me.”

 

 

 

Osteen’s mind is not set on the bad things God says about him. His is a lost sinner until he confesses his sins, repents and asks Christ to save him from his sins.

 

 

 

“Faith says ‘This sickness is not permanent. It’s only temporary.’”

 

 

 

Tell that to faithful Christians in hospices. God does not heal every believer.

 

 

 

“What we meditate on is what takes root.” “That’s what Job said ‘The thing I feared came upon me’ (Job 3:25).”

 

 

 

No. No. NO. Job’s suffering was not the result of his constant fears! Osteen has again changed God’s Word to match his own created spoken words

 

 

 

P137-140: “I declare (verbalize) I am equipped for every good work God has panned for me.” “This is my time to shine.”

 

 

 

Sounds like an ego trip. Look at me! Look at me! Meanwhile the gospel tells us to “look at Jesus.” A gospel worker who is fully equipped has studied God’s Word and can preach the “whole” gospel with both its positive and negative teachings. And, it is not my time to shine” – it is Christ’s time to be exalted.

 

 

 

“God has equipped and empowered you with everything you need. You don’t have to struggle to make things happen. It’s already in you.”

 

 

 

Christians have two natures and do have to constantly struggle concerning sanctification. The power already “in” us is the Person of the Holy Spirit – something else lacking in Osteen’s theology in this book.

 

 

 

P141-144: PRAYER: “I will pray bold prayers.” “I will ask God to bring to pass those hidden dreams that are deep in my heart” (because he has placed them there, p7-11).

 

 

 

Finally, on page 141 (day 28 of 31) prayer is mentioned! Yet nothing is said about “nevertheless not my will by thy will be done” and no prerequisites for answered prayer are mentioned.

 

 

 

P145-148: “I declare God is working all things together for my good. He has a master plan for my life. One day it will all come together and everything will make sense.”

 

 

 

First, Osteen switches back and forth from sounding like a predestinationist (God preplans and forces the will to fulfill His plans) and sometimes he sound like an Arminian (freewill to create your destiny by verbalizing). Both cannot be true. Second, God’s master plan for your life may be imprisonment, suffering and death such as millions of martyrs. Third, the text to which he alludes (Romans 8:28) has a perquisite of choosing to love and obey God.

 

 

 

P149-153: “God is going before me making crooked places straight.” 

 

 

 

We are back to the predestinationist Osteen. He alludes to Isaiah 45:2 and miss-applies it to us instead John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ.

 

 

 

No person, no sickness, no disappointment can stop his plan.”

 

 

 

The fact that we have free will means that we can choose to stop the blessings of sanctification God has planned for His children.

 

 

 

“The Lord your God will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to devour them. He will subdue them … (Deut 9).”

 

 

 

Unlike Osteen, Deuteronomy is not one-sided; it has both blessings and curses for disobedience. God told Israel that his blessings would come only if they obeyed the whole law. The other side (ignored by Osteen) is  that God would severely punish Israel for “sin” – a word not found in this book.

 

 

 

“It’s not by our own strength or by our own power. It’s because Almighty God … is going before us … causing our enemies to want to be good to us.”

 

 

 

For 151 pages (30 of 31 days) the overwhelming teaching of this book has been “Our words have creative power. Whenever we speak something, either good or bad, we give life to what we are saying” (pv and vi)” Finally, on page 152 he tells the truth.

 

 

 

P155-159: “I declare everything that doesn’t line up with God’s vision for my life is subject to change. Sickness, trouble, lack and mediocrity … are only temporary.” It is the “vision God placed in your heart (p157-158).

 

 

 

Back to page 9 again. For Osteen “God’s vision” is all of our own “hopes and dreams” which he has placed in our hearts. Therefore (to Osteen) God’s will is what we desire. This approach ignores the basic sinfulness of lust of unregenerate man.

 

 

 

Conclusion: The greatest portion of this book reflects Osteen’s passion that verbalizing one’s thoughts creates that which is verbalized. This is the power of positive thinking to the utmost extreme. It goes far beyond what atheists, agnostics, Buddhists

 

and Dale Carnegie taught. And Osteen

 

does not have the courtesy to tell which text he is quoting.

 

 

 

His theology see-saws from predetermined Calvinism-predestination-fatalism to freewill arminianism where we are the masters of our own destiny though our free-will verbalized thoughts.

 

 

 

Joel Osteen cannot possibly be described as a Christian minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He does not use familiar biblical terms such as “gospel,” “study God’s Word,” “repent/repentance,” “confess,” “redeem/redemption,” “saved/salvation” or “hell/hades/Sheol.”